Final Project: Think Fast

Think Fast Rules

Thoughts on the final game:

I combined elements from Family Feud (with the opening Fast Round!) and Scattergories. I twisted Scattergories around so that players had a chance to use more letters for each category, and introduced a team gameplay element. All in all, I think it was successful. Those players who do not consider themselves Scattergories fans probably won’t like this game either, but I think that by adding a twitch and speed element to the game, it induces more of a party atmosphere.

The only changes that I would make to the game is to add more Fast Round! and regular category cards, and also to have proper materials. I obviously had to cut some corners as I’m on a student’s budget, but it would add to the aesthetic appeal to have a proper buzzer (not just a card), and to have a minute timer that made noise (as in regular Scattergories).

As a word-naming game, this project definitely incorporates language and thinking creatively about words and categories. I’d like to see if the gameplay changed at all if I were to add more nebulous or adult categories (such as “reasons to break up with your significant other”), as the answers to those wouldn’t have to be quite so rigid.

Storytelling Prototype: Sequelator

Title: Sequelator

Materials needed: 2 deck of cards: 1 deck of famous movie titles, 1 deck of adjectivesObjective: Get the judge to pick your version of a movie sequel!

Gameplay:  Each player will be one adjective card, facedown. Then, one movie card is flipped over by the judge. That judge reads the scenario on the movie title on the card out loud, and then places it face-up in the center of the board. The players flip over their adjective cards, and when a player is ready, he/she describes a potential sequel to the movie listed on the card using that adjective. For example, if the movie is “Bambi,” and the adjective is “scary,” perhaps a player could describe a sequel in which Bambi’s mother’s ghost comes back and haunts the forest.

There is no official time limit on the movie sequel story, but a judge may cut a player off if he/she feels that that player is running over time. Play proceeds to the next player that is ready to tell their sequel story, until all players have presented. After each player has pitched their potential movie sequel, the judge picks which player described the best sequel, and that player gets 1 point. The game stops when someone earns 5 points, or after some other desired number.

How is this a storytelling game? The play is dependent on telling a particular story, using characters and plots from well-known movies as a jumping off point.

Was it successful? For the most part, yes. Many of my playtesters enjoyed creating new plots and stories from well-known movies. I think that some of the adjective cards are more prone to witty responses than others, however (for example, people like to hear about a scary or awkward sequel more than they like to hear about a happy sequel). This could affect the judging in ways beyond the players’ control. Additionally, as with any storytelling game, a player’s ability to improvise and tell a good story is contingent upon their personality.

Word Juxtaposition Prototype: Absurdity!

Title: Absurdity!

Materials needed: 2 deck of cards: 1 deck of word cards, and 1 deck of sketches

Objective: Try to get the most votes from your creative scenario!


Each player will be dealt three word cards. Players may only look at their own cards. Then, one sketch card is selected by a player. That player reads the scenario on the sketch card out loud, and then places it face-up in the center of their board.

Players have one minute to write down a creative scenario that fulfills the instructions on the sketch card. Players must use the three word cards that are in their hand when writing the sketch.

When time’s up, players must stop writing. The player that originally read the sketch card will gather up all of the cards and shuffle them. That player will then read all of the written scenarios out loud.

After the scenarios have been read through (they may be read through twice if requested), players will say out loud which scenario they like best. Players may not vote for their own scenario. Players can decide if the judge may vote or not.

The player that receives the most votes earns one point, and gameplay continues, with the play rotating clockwise on who gets to be the judge. The game stops when someone earns 5 points, or after some other desired number.

How is this a juxtaposition game? Well, obviously the play is dependent upon random words being used together in a scenario. I combined elements from Snake Oil and Balderdash to create this game, both of which rely heavily on word play.

Was it successful?

Yes and no. Many of my playtesters were able to create witty responses in the time allotted, but there was one player who was consistently lost and had lackluster responses. I think this shows that the game is not for everyone, though I feel that this limitation is true of many other games that rely on creativity (including Balderdash and Snake Oil). Perhaps easier scenarios or more daring word cards could help solve this problem.

Additionally, not all of my players were sold on the “voting” concept. I rather like it, but it would be worth considering whether one person in the position of judge might make gameplay a bit smoother.

I really struggled to come up with a concept for this prototype exercise, so I am happy with the final product, and think it does a good job of playing with word juxtaposition!

Word Guessing Game Prototype: Guess What?

Title: Guess What?

Materials: 2 decks of cards: One deck of descriptive cards, one deck of noun cards

Objective: Get your team to say the word on the card before the opponent’s team.


Shuffle both decks of cards, and then spread the descriptive cards face-up on the gaIMG_4610me space. Noun cards should be stacked face-down so that players may draw as needed.

Break into 2 equal teams of two. One player from each team is elected to be the first “Arranger.” Each of the elected players must look at a “noun card,” and then say out loud whether it is a person, a place, or a thing.

Each Arranger must attempt to separately describe the word on the noun card by using only the descriptive cards on the table. Teammates may call our their guesses as more cards are laid on the table. Whichever team is able to guess the mystery word first gets one point.

Gameplay continues until one team reaches 15 points.

This game was inspired mainly by Pictionary (I like to think of it as Pictionary with words), but Apples to Apples and Taboo were other inspirations.

This is a word guessing game because the Arrangers are attempting to get their teammates to guess a specific word using only the descriptive word cards.

My friends enjoyed the game, and it seemed to be pretty hit or miss whether or not a specific noun card was easy to guess. If I were to go on and try to improve this game, I would try to have a larger variety of noun cards, and more extensive gameplay would reveal whether or not certain descriptive word cards should be omitted, or if there should be multiples of a specific card.

Spelling/Letter Game Prototype: Word Rummy

Game title: Word Rummy

Materials: 106-card deck, scoresheet


Players: 2-4


The object is to have the lowest number of points by combining the cards in a hand into a word or words. In each deal the players may reduce the value of the cards held in their hands by coming up with a specific “contract” that is made up a specific combination of words (that each have a specific number of letters).

The contracts change for each deal. The contracts for the seven deals are:

Deal #1: 2 sets of 3-letter words

Deal #2: One 3-letter word, one 4-letter word

Deal #3: Two 4-letter words

Deal #4: One 4-letter word, one 5-letter word

Deal #5: Two 3-letter words, one 4-letter word

Deal #6: Two 3-letter words, one 5-letter word

Deal #7: One 3-letter word, one 4-letter word, one 5-letter word


In the first hand of the game, 6 cards are dealt to each player. In the next hand, one additional card is dealt to each player (7 cards), and so on until the cards can no longer be dealt evenly to each player.


The player to the dealer’s left is first, and the play continues clockwise.

On each turn, a player:

-Draws either a card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile

-May lay down their completed contract for that hand

-May play off of other players who have laid down once they have laid down their own contracts (by adding letters to already-existing words). If able, a player who has laid down may also create a new word with remaining cards and add it to the contract cards already on the table. For example, if the player picks up the letter cards “E,” “T,” and “A,” they may place down the three cards as a new word “EAT.” Other players who have gone out will have the opportunity to play off of this new word.

-Completes a turn by discarding one card (or by going out)

Play continues until one player “goes out,” or has no cards left in their hand.


After each player has finished their turn by discarding, if the next player declines to pick up the new top card of the face-up discard pile, any other player may “buy” it. The “price” of picking up this extra card out of turn is drawing an additional card from the draw pile.

The first player to say (or shout) “BUY IT” gets the card. If two players speak at the same time, the player who laid down the card originally may choose who the card should go to.

The option to buy ends when the next player draws a card.

Wild cards

There are two Wild Cards in the deck, and these cards can represent any letter of the player’s choosing.

Playing off other players

Once a player has laid down, they can then attempt to further reduce the number of cards in their hand by adding to other players’ laid cards. If another player has laid down the word “EAT,” and you have an “S,” “H,” “B,” or other letter that would fit the word, you may add it to their pile. For example, the new word could be “EATS” or “BEAT.”


A player goes out when he/she successfully discards the only remaining card in the hand, marking the conclusion of the step for all players. A player gets to this point by laying down and then playing off his and other players’ hands.

At the end of each round when a player goes out, the rest of the players total their scores by counting up the value of the cards remaining in their hands. The card value is the number that is printed in the top corner of each card.

Letter Frequency

109 cards: A-10, B-2, C-2, D-4, E-12, F-2, G-3, H-3, I-8, J-2, K-2, L-4, M-2, N-6, O-8, P-2, Q-1, R-6, S-6, T-6, U-6, V-2, W3, X-1, Y-2, Z-1, Wild-2

Photographic evidence:


How is this a spelling/letter game?

Well….it requires players to combine letters together to make words. Like Scrabble or Boggle, players with a more extensive vocabulary and/or more experience in word games will likely have an advantage (ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT “QAT” IS A WORD!). This game also requires players to consider how to edit and add onto words, as players must add letters onto existing words in order to “go out.”

The game’s structure is modeled after Liverpool Rummy, replacing the traditional playing cards with word cards. I based the letter frequencies for the cards off of Scrabble, though I did change a few (for example, “S” cards appear more frequently in my game than they would in Scrabble).

What did people think // Room for improvement

I was only able to get through a couple of rounds before my friends abandoned me to watch the Oscars, but they seemed to like it! It’s relatively easy to maintain a conversation during gameplay, though the “twitch” aspect of the game comes into play when you want to “buy” a letter card. If you’re talking to the person next to you and you miss the “S” card that was on top of the discard pile and someone else takes it…tough luck! One thing that I may need to work on is the final part of each round, when players have completed their contracts and are trying to play their cards on other players’ words–sometimes this part can take WAY too long. More playtesting will clear this up, I think…it might be necessary to add more “S” cards or Wild Cards to the deck to fix this issue.

Altogether, it was a fun project!


Crossword struggles

I thought that creating a crossword puzzle was going to be a straightforward task. I pictured myself dreaming up clever clues, with my words would easily coming together in an hour or so. Instead, I found myself desperately googling things like “Characters in Shakespeare that start with ‘A” or “Synonym for ‘foolish,” painstakingly squeezing the words into the template for over three hours. This experience humbled me, and certainly gave me more respect for the creators of the more sophisticated crossword puzzles.

I’d say my puzzle is pretty typical, and most of the clues are not groundbreaking. But there are pieces of the crossword that I think are interesting or fun, so at least some of my attempted creativity shines through. I gave it to my roommate, and she managed to complete half the puzzle before giving up and yelling at me to tell her the answers, so I’ll take it as a good sign.

(EDIT: The clue for 12 Across should read: “Clooney’s wife”)

Here is the blank puzzle:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 9.29.08 PM

and here is the completed puzzle:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 9.28.45 PM

Above all, I’m just proud that I finished it!